Since this was the first time I would be participating in the Mumbai Marathon, I wanted to enter in the Dream Run (6 km). But as I could run 5 km non-stop on the treadmill by August (the time of registration), my trainer urged me to register for the Half Marathon. I thought he was kidding, but he said there was still time for the event and I could still train for the same.
As a teenager, I was a sprinter and loved the 100 and 200 metres, but never imagined attempting a long distance run. I guess it is more of mental training, endurance, and focus that one has to have to run long distance.
The buzz at the starting point was amazing. I did not realise how I completed the first three kms. I took breaks, but none was more than two minutes, as the crowd constantly kept egging the runners on. While going down Peddar Road I realised that the way back would be a long ascend, which would hamper my timing. So I stepped up the pace while going down and continuously ran for about 15 minutes till I reached Worli.
This was what kept me going while coming back. After the U-turn from Worli, I slowed down and started walking a bit. Suddenly an elderly man crossed me and said, 'Come on, don't stop'. I looked at him and said thanks. He said that I had overtaken him four times, something I did not notice. I told him to go ahead and I would overtake him a fifth time too.
I did overtake him a seventh time, while going up Peddar Road. I did not think I would be able to run up the slope there, but I did. When I reached Babulnath I took out a chocolate and thought that if this dude could catch me now, I would give him half of it. But I had left him way behind by then and I guess he couldn't catch up with me again.
After the 15 km mark, it was really tough. The weather was also sultry and I could see everyone around struggling by then. I was waiting to spot someone with a spray, but I did not want to stop as it would affect my timing.
Once I went past the 19 km mark, I was sure I could complete the half marathon. The last 500 meters surged more power in me. I decided to sprint the last 100 meters, but stepped up the pace 200 metres from the finish.
When I finished I could barely speak. There were a lot of people lying down in pain, and was glad I wasn't one of them.
I could run 5 km without stopping on the treadmill by August. I continued this till October, when I was supposed to start training for the marathon. From October, I started running on Juhu Beach on Saturdays. This was initially for only an hour, and gradually it increased to two-and-a-half hours The rest of the days it was regular gym training, including two days of cardio and weight training.
I was running about 9-10 kms every week towards the end. The best part was that I was running on the beach and hence knew that there were slim chances of picking knee injuries. Also, I was confident that my performance would improve on the road.
It was a regular diet daily, but I ate loads of carb for 2-3 days before marathon day. This was to make sure I would have enough of stamina for the whole course. I also had lots of water to keep myself hydrated before each running session.
I was initially told that I would lose weight if I trained for the marathon, but soon realized that I was not losing much, though my body was toning beautifully. Nevertheless, I took it as a challenge and today am proud to have completed the 21 kms run in 2 hours 49 minutes. My trainer, Rajesh Pawar, clocked 1 hour 50 minutes.
Already, am looking forward to the next Mumbai marathon.